Monday, May 18, 2009

Civil War!

"David went up the Mount of Olives weeping, head covered but barefooted, and the whole army was with him, heads covered and weeping as they ascended."

OK - It was a rather unusual civil war.

Started out with David taking on 6 then 7 wives, and having all kinds of children with them. Then his sin of adultery, cover-up and murder.

Nathan the prophet exposed the sin and prophesied that, "Because you treated God with such contempt and took Uriah the Hittite's wife as your wife, killing and murder will continually plague your family. This is God speaking, remember! I'll make trouble for you out of your own family... You did your deed in secret; I'm doing mine with the whole country watching!"

Boy did that ever come true! Next piece in the story is the rape of one of David's daughters by none other than David's oldest son. The son is never disciplined. Absolom, the girl's sister, takes revenge and kills the perp. Absolom is never disciplined.

Next Absolom spends 4 years cultivating the people of the kingdom. Once he is ready, he goes to Hebron and has himself announced as king of the land.

Word comes to David. What was his response? 13 "Someone came to David with the report, "The whole country has taken up with Absalom!"
14 "Up and out of here!" called David to all his servants who were with him in Jerusalem. "We've got to run for our lives or none of us will escape Absalom! Hurry, he's about to pull the city down around our ears and slaughter us all!"
15 The king's servants said, "Whatever our master, the king, says, we'll do; we're with you all the way!"
16 -18 So the king and his entire household escaped on foot. The king left ten concubines behind to tend to the palace. And so they left, step by step by step, and then paused at the last house as the whole army passed by him..."

David decides not to fight. He was a great warrior. I suspect he could have beat any army his son would put together pretty handily. So why did he flee instead? Was it guilt? Did he accept this as God's punishment? Would he rather abduct the throne than plunge the country into a bloody civil war? What was his motivation? Perhaps it was all about his love for his son.

Later, Absolom gets into Jerusalem, and decides to pursue his father to kill him. It takes a little while to muster the army and chase his father down. The civil war has one and only one battle. David's army kills 20,000 of their fellow countrymen. Absolom dies.

David is heartbroken. While Absolom had no compunctions at all about killing his father to get the kingdom, David did not at all want to harm his son. Quite a character difference!

Chapter 18 ends with this touching lament:
33 "The king was stunned.
Heartbroken, he went up to the room over the gate and wept.
As he wept he cried out,
O my son Absalom, my dear, dear son Absalom!
Why not me rather than you, my death and not yours,
O Absalom, my dear, dear son! "

And with that, the civil war was over.

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